Inter-University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society

We are a forum for the interchange and assessment of research and scholarship in the social and behavioral sciences, dealing with the military establishment and civil-military relations.

Perspectives on the Afghanistan War: A Virtual Symposium

A message to our friends and partners,

The Inter-University Seminar (IUS) and Armed Forces & Society are excited to announce an on-line special issue - “Perspectives on the Afghanistan War”. This inaugural, online resource offers our readers a variety of critical commentary by an international set of scholars. Each essay contains unique and insightful perspectives regarding the tragic 20-year-long Afghanistan war.

The 13 essays contain commentary on a variety of topics. Several examine factors that contributed to the Taliban win and the West’s defeat. Insights into civil-military relations as well as lessons learned run through most of the commentary. Legacy issues such as civilian casualties, outsourcing, and women’s experience in war are included. An international array of Western and non-Western authors brings fresh perspectives to the scholarly landscape.

The genesis of this symposium began at a coffee shop after Pat Shields read a set of heartfelt tweets, which contained Retired Navy Captain Don Inbody’s reaction to the final days of the Afghanistan withdrawal. Inbody’s tweets called for serious scholarship into this calamitous and prolonged misadventure. We hope to begin the discussion with these papers.

So, it is with great excitement that we present to our readers a multidisciplinary and non-partisan, international, exploration of the long-war in Afghanistan – at the one-year anniversary of the US withdrawal from Kabul. SAGE has made all of the articles “free to read” for 8 weeks.

Click here to access the symposium.

Patricia M. Shields
Editor, Armed Forces & Society

Laura L. Miller
President, IUS

2022 Charles Moskos Prize Winner Announced

We are happy to announce Dr. Matthew Cancian as the 2022 winner of the Charles Moskos Prize for his article “The Motivation to Enlist Among Kurds.”

Dr. Cancian’s article, addresses theoretically and empirically a central question in military sociology: why individuals join armed forces. The author seeks to assess the degree to which Charles Moskos’s classical analytical framework on motivation to enlist “travels” to other contexts, here Kurdish fighters engaged in the fight against ISIS, thereby encouraging comparative perspectives in military sociology. He provides a nuanced answer: Moskos’s model is useful but incomplete. To better take into account the specific context of the recruitment of Kurdish fighters, he combines a new category – the desire for revenge – to the classic occupational and institutional motivations to join. The award committee found particularly stimulating and fruitful the paper’s effort to explore a classical theme such as enlistment in the non-state context of a war-fighting militia. This helps to explain motivations to join under unique conditions, very different from typical Western militaries. Moreover, Kurdish recruitment is of high interest to Western armed forces seeking allies in the fight against ISIS and beyond. Lastly, the paper is grounded in a fascinating empirical enquiry under difficult, ongoing war condition. It is the result of a fruitful cooperation with local researchers as well as local Kurdish commanders. In sum, the paper makes an important contribution to the study of nonstate warfare from a sociological perspective.

Dr. Cancian studies military operations at the Naval War College as a contractor for Saalex Solutions. He received his PhD in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2022, where he concentrated in Security Studies and Comparative Politics. His thesis was about the motivations of combatants and the effects of training, based on a survey of 2,301 Kurdish fighters (Peshmerga) during their war against the Islamic State. He is interested in adding new, data-driven perspectives to all questions pertaining to security studies. Before MIT he earned a Masters in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School and a BA in History from the University of Virginia. Between those educational experiences he served as a Captain in the United States Marine Corps, deploying to Sangin, Afghanistan as a Forward Observer in 2011 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

We want to thank the selection committee, composed of Professor Damon Coletta (United States Air Force Academy), Professor Yagil Levy (The Open University of Israel), and Professor Pascal Vennesson (S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University Singapore) (Chair).

Register Now for the 2022 IUS Canada Conference

The 2022 IUS Canada Conference will be held at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario from October 21-23. We welcome papers or organized panels that address the key themes of interest to the IUS Fellows in support of emerging scholarly research dealing with the military establishment and civil-military relations.

Registration is now open. To register for the conference and book a discounted hotel room, visit:

IUS Secretariat Laura Miller Elected Chair & President of the IUS

The Council of the Inter-University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society has elected Dr. Laura Miller as new IUS Chair/President. She succeeds Dr. Patricia Shields who will continue serving as Editor of Armed Forces and Society.

Miller has been an IUS member since the early 1990s. She served on the IUS Council from 1995-2016, and has been a member of the Board and the IUS Secretary since 2005. She has also served as an occasional reviewer for the journal and now serves on the Board of Editors. Her biographical information is at:

Donate to the Charles Moskos Prize

The Charles Moskos Prize is named in honor of Charles C. Moskos, PhD, beloved mentor, friend, and former President/Chair of IUS. This Prize will inspire future generations of civil-military relations scholars by recognizing, promoting, and rewarding annually the best article published by an emerging scholar in Armed Forces & Society.

For more information on the Charles Moskos Prize, eligibility and benefits, click here.

To give a tax-deductible donation to the Charles Moskos Prize, use the following Paypal link:

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The Fellows of the IUS are selected on the basis of their professional qualifications. The criteria are advanced education in related fields, research publications, teaching or other demonstrated processional accomplishments in the field of military studies.


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